[funsec] 1 March 1990: U.S. Secret Service Raids Austin's Steve
fergdawg at netzero.net
Tue Feb 28 20:10:56 CST 2006
My daily "00:01" entry for tomorrow.
On March 1 1990, the offices of Steve Jackson Games, in Austin, Texas, were raided by the U.S. Secret Service as part of a nationwide investigation of data piracy. The initial news stories simply reported that the Secret Service had raided a suspected ring of hackers. Gradually, the true story emerged.
More than three years later, a federal court awarded damages and attorneys' fees to the game company, ruling that the raid had been careless, illegal, and completely unjustified. Electronic civil-liberties advocates hailed the case as a landmark. It was the first step toward establishing that online speech IS speech, and entitled to Constitutional protection... and, specifically, that law-enforcement agents can't seize and hold a BBS with impunity.
On the morning of March 1, without warning, a force of armed Secret Service agents - accompanied by Austin police and at least one civilian "expert" from the phone company - occupied the offices of Steve Jackson Games and began to search for computer equipment. The home of Loyd Blankenship, the writer of GURPS Cyberpunk, was also raided. A large amount of equipment was seized, including four computers, two laser printers, some loose hard disks and a great deal of assorted hardware. One of the computers was the one running the Illuminati BBS.
The only computers taken were those with GURPS Cyberpunk files; other systems were left in place. In their diligent search for evidence, the agents also cut off locks, forced open footlockers, tore up dozens of boxes in the warehouse, and bent two of the office letter openers attempting to pick the lock on a file cabinet...
This case resulted in the creation of the EFF.
>From the EFF archives:
"Fergie", a.k.a. Paul Ferguson
Engineering Architecture for the Internet
fergdawg at netzero.net or fergdawg at sbcglobal.net
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